Lewiston divided over mayor’s latest call for welfare reform

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

LePage apparently not interested in online welfare registry.

A Maine mayor is proposing a controversial name-and-shame strategy for welfare recipients, saying he plans to push a bill requiring the state to publish the names and addresses and other details for “every individual on the dole.” Robert Macdonald, mayor of Lewiston, Maine, pitched the plan in his regular column for the Twin City Times.When a politician says its a time for “a major overhaul of the many laws and policies dealing with confidentiality,” it sounds like the kind of revolution privacy advocates have been waiting for—especially in light of recent public data snags.Upset by the fact that Maine’s government maintains a website that lists the amount of money received by pensioners in the state, and angered by the existence of welfare recipients, or the “victimized, protected class,” Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald devised a plan. Peter Steele, LePage’s communication director, tells the Sun Journal (http://bit.ly/1LCUtbF) that there’s no plan for the governor to submit such a bill.

I hope this makes people think twice before applying for welfare.” As a mayor, Macdonald can’t introduce a state bill on his own, and the Bangor Daily News reported that he did not have a sponsor as of Friday and that the governor does not have any plans to introduce legislation on it. No privacy here because this is being paid out by the State; accordingly, taxpayers have a right to know,” he continued. “Yet other recipients of state revenues are shielded. Macdonald says he submitted the proposal to local lawmakers, who had until Friday to submit proposed bill titles for legislation to be considered in January.

It’s not the first time he’s faced backlash — in 2012, residents called for his resignation after his xenophobic remarks advising Somali immigrants to “accept our culture and you leave your culture at the door.” But the Lewiston mayoral election is coming up in November, and a young progressive challenger has already broken the state record for mayoral campaign fundraising. Along with this bill, we will be resubmitting HR 368, which will bring local General Assistance into compliance with federal laws that limit General Assistance to a 60-month total lifetime benefit.

Resident and welfare recipient Sheena Dingledine said, “Unfortunately, with today’s economy, it’s hard to get off the program because your money is going to rent and everything else that you need, and that little bit of food stamps we get is what keeps us alive.” Another resident, James Wiggle, feared taxpayers might be emboldened by the information. “They’re going to feel like, ‘Oh, I have the right to go up to this person’s house, ring their doorbell and complain,’ which they don’t,” Wiggle told ABC.

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